US Enters UN Alley
UNESCO grants full membership to the State of Palestine
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It reads almost as the expected script of a badly written Hollywood movie. Even the participants are similar: the American movie company is featured by the American government; the Jewish writer/producer is played by the State of Israel and the audience paying for the dubious pleasure of seeing the event is the international UN assembly at New York. Yesterday, October 31, UNESCO granted Palestine full membership, with 107 votes in favor, 14 against and 52 abstentions. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor, Israel, US, Canada and Germany opposed, while Britain oddly abstained.
Last month, Palestine applied at the UN General Assembly to be recognized as full member. The decision must be approved by the UN Security Council later this month and then returned to the general assembly for voting. However, Palestinians are not waiting. The Palestinian Authority is seeking to become a member of the World Health Organization and of 15 smaller UN agencies, including the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, The International Labor Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. As things look now, Palestinians have the needed momentum and neither the US nor Israel would manage to stop them from being recognized.
Israel reacted with no delays. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with senior ministers to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. Among the ideas to be considered are cancelling the VIP status of senior Palestinian officials which enables them to cross through Israeli checkpoints, increasing settlement construction, and halting the transfer of tax money which Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority. In parallel, it was announced that 2,000 housing units are to be built by Israel in major West Bank settlements. This last step is seen by Palestinians as obstructing negotiations; thus Israel has in fact announced it is halting the negotiations. The Israeli reaction was a bit expected; what should lead to mass demonstrations of the American people is their government’s response.
Apparently, America is running on automatic pilot mode. Two laws legislated in the past determine funding to UN institutions accepting a Palestinian state would be automatically cut. There is nothing Obama can do, except fixing the laws; that takes time. The US gives about 80 millions dollars per year to the UNESCO, which is about 20% of the organization’s budget. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US would refrain from making a $60 million payment it planned to make in November, but that it would maintain its membership in the body. Thank you, America, for this last sign of mercy on us.
In the long run, the cut in funding could impact the voting rights of the US, since under UNESCO's constitution any member state that gets more than two years in arrears in its contribution does not have the right to vote in the general conference. According to Nuland, the actual arrearage status of the U.S. will begin in January. Thus, America is actually considering one of the main international forums because it has accepted Palestine. Mr. Obama, does a Palestinian movie, or book, offend you by definition? Is that the American people message to the world? This is censorship in the name of democracy.
The American Congress is also considering new legislation that would impose additional restrictions on American funding of the United Nations, threatens cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority, and slashing military assistance to key foreign countries in retaliation to their support for the Palestinian bid for full UN membership. This is almost one step short of war. I would like to see Mr. Obama so decisive also when it comes to the 99% of America’s population. After all, who voted for him?
America’s autopilot put its massive ship within a very narrow dead end alley. Does America expect that the participation of Palestine in the world’s cultural forum – UNESCO - would be defined on grounds of America’s contribution to that organization’s budget? Does America attempt to openly blackmail the world and still attempt to present itself as morally pristine? Does America attempt to scare off the other UN organizations about to accept Palestine? Is Obama capable of understanding a majority of at least 140 out of 193 UN members supporting Palestine? Does he enjoy a better rating at home?
Come on, America the Beautiful, get real and go back to your core values. The world deserves it! We don’t need more politruks.
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